Governing with Courage

In discussions around the village, I’m finding that some community members misunderstand my position on preserving Ossining’s charter village status.

I have never advocated for dissolving the village, and I do not believe it would be good for Ossining.  Beyond the importance of honoring our rich history, there are powers and autonomy inherent in being a charter village that we would be foolish to give up.  I do, however, believe leaders should explore more opportunities for shared services to reduce redundancy and save tax dollars.

Carolyn Mackie Oss PicAs Albany pushes us to work harder at finding further opportunities for consolidation, village officials must hold the interest of the people of Ossining as our highest priority in all decision making.  Ossining already has over a dozen fiscally wise inter-municipal agreements that do not undermine our autonomy.

It is time for change in Ossining—time to shake up the status quo.

This mayoral race is about electing the person who will best serve our community.  I’ll always strive to work with political courage for the people of Ossining.

 

Progress You’re a Part Of

Do you have a good idea for what could be done better in Ossining?  Do you ever feel people in village government aren’t listening to you?  Whether it’s economic development, collaboration with schools, safe streets, parking, parkland, recycling, trash, or taxes—everyone in our community has something they think could be better.  And the best ideas for improvement may already have been figured out by community members.  Please take a moment to complete this survey and tell me how we can better serve Ossining.

None of us knows as much as all of us.

This phrase was offered by a speaker at last month’s Pace Land Use Annual Conference of 2013.  This simple truth was at the core of every successful initiative discussed that day—initiatives already happening in other communities.  Borrowing ideas that work for other municipalities can save us money and make us stronger.

When I was a trustee-elect, Eric and I traveled to Washington, DC to attend a conference led by the New Organizing Institute.  I immersed myself among grassroots organizers who dedicate much of their lives to fighting for issues.  The message that most strongly resonated with me then as I prepared to take office for the first time was…

Do not seek elected office so you may wield power over the people you represent, rather, seek elected office so you may empower the people you serve.

Have you driven through the Avalon development on North Highland?  The fences are down and a good chunk of the buildings are up.  Please share your thoughts on development in the survey...
Have you driven through the Avalon development on North Highland? The fences are down and a good chunk of the buildings are up. Please share your thoughts on development in the survey…

Together, these two themes inspire and guide my work for the village.  Can you help me in this effort by spending a few moments responding to this brief survey?…

Keeping Connected…

Do you want to know more of what’s going on in village government?  Do you want more opportunities to impact decision making in the village?

Sign-up here to receive emails of upcoming meetings and community events.

Follow Victoria Gearity, Trustee on Facebook.

Get Nixle Alerts with emergency messages by texting 10562 to 88877.

Receive an email with any new post I put on my website by adding your email address to the “Follow this Blog” box in the upper right corner of VictoriaGearity.com.

If there is a particular village committee/council/board where you would like to serve, contact Assistant Village Manager, Christina Papes (cpapes@villageofossining.org) and ask if there are any available seats.  Even if there are none currently, you can submit your letter of interest and resume to be considered when a spot becomes available.

Come to a Village Board of Trustees meeting.  We meet Wednesdays at 7:30.  The 1st & 3rd Wednesdays are at the Birdsall-Fagan Court, 86-88 Spring Street.  These are legislative sessions and the public is invited to speak on camera to make organizational announcements or to comment on any resolutions the board will consider that night.  When the camera goes off, the public is invited to comment on any issue of interest to them.  The 2nd & 4th Wednesdays are at Village Hall, 16 Croton Ave.  These are work sessions.  This is when the board members ask questions about potential upcoming issues/initiatives, and we decide what will be the next steps.  You can also watch meetings on tv or online.  Let me know what we can do better.

If you are one of the many folks who has contacted me this year to share an idea or concern, thank you.  If you haven’t already completed this brief survey, please do.  Perhaps I’ll see you soon at a Wednesday meeting!

Vote! Tuesday, September 10 is Primary Election Day!

VOTE logoDemocrats & Independence Party members get a bonus election day this cycle!  On Tuesday, September 10 Ossining Democrats & Indendents, go to your polling place between 6:00am and 9:00pm.  Not sure where your polling place is?  Visit the Westchester Board of Elections website.

If you are a registered Democrat in the Town of Ossining—that includes all of us in the Village of Ossining, and nearly everyone in the Village of Briarcliff Manor—I hope you’ll join me at the polls today in supporting Northern Wilcher and Kim Jeffrey for Town Council.

I encourage Independence Party members to support Catherine Borgia in her bid for re-election to serve as our Westchester County Legislator.  Catherine has been a leader on issues that matter deeply to me—in particular by protecting us from toxic hydrofracking waste, and making it easier for local contractors to install solar panels.  Earlier this year, I attended a meeting of the Government Operations Committee as Catherine chaired the discussion on whether and how the county will implement a Complete Streets program.  Catherine works incredibly hard on behalf her constituents and I am grateful that she represents us.

The race I’ll be watching most closely is for Town Council.  There are two seats up for election, and three candidates seeking the Democratic Party endorsement.  No Republicans are running for these seats, so the election will be decided by Democratic primary voters.   I’m supporting Kim Jeffrey and Northern Wilcher.  Northern Wilcher is seeking re-election.  Kim is running for her first term.

Kim Jeffrey is a friend of mine.  Still, we disagree and argue pretty regularly.  We both express our opinion and listen to each other, yet we don’t necessarily come to share a perspective.  And that’s ok.  We just move on to the next topic.  I really admire and enjoy people that can disagree with me on a particular issue, and not let that determine whether we are friends, and not deter us from working together on another initiative.

Kim and I have a lot in common—sons nearly the same age, we’re soccer moms, and we have a lot of mutual friends.  I met Kim when we were both working with Ossining Citizens for Schools on campaigns to pass school bonds and budgets.  Since then I’ve served on a fundraising committee that she chaired for the Ossining Town Democratic Committee, and supported her remarkable leadership in gathering our community together for a vigil in the wake of the Newtown tragedy.

Kim is bold.  Kim is dedicated.  Kim will be a great public servant.  I look forward to more opportunities to work with her when she is on the Town Council.

Music—An Ossining Community Value

There is no greater place for a music lover to live than Ossining.

The richness of music in Ossining is a huge part of what makes this community ideal for raising our family.  Last Sunday we walked down the hill to our public library to attend a free Guy Davis concert.  Paxton and Levon listened, sang and clapped along with their fellow concert-goers.  Afterward, we bought a CD and the boys joked around with Guy as he signed it and dramatically engaged in high-fives with his youngest audience members.

Mike Risko taught me a chord so I’d look like I know what I’m doing for this pic!

There are so many ways to love music—playing, singing, listening, dancing, learning the history…  Growing up I learned a little piano, performed in every school musical and chorus concert, and sang in my college’s gospel choir.  I’m playing the piano more today than I have in decades, as I help Pax and Levon practice.  And Thursday evening I’m going to learn a little guitar at the Rockin’ Moms Night Out.  It’s a fundraiser for the Friends of Victoria Gearity campaign for Ossining Village Trustee, hosted by Risko Music.

Of course, any party is an opportunity to celebrate local Ossining businesses!  We’ll sample treats from Bellina Chocolates and Sterling Sweets, munch savory snacks, and taste selections from Ossining Wine & Liquor (85 Croton Avenue, 914-941-2733) as well as local craft brewers.  Please join us!   The Rockin’ part of the night is thanks to The Mike Risko Music School who is hosting the event and will break out some guitars and provide a mini-lesson to any musically inclined or curious party-goers.

Where else can kids meet and joke with professional musicians on any given Sunday afternoon?

The Mike Risko Music School received a big shout-out at the Guy Davis concert because of the school’s support of the free series.  Alan and Ellen Marzelli are the founders of the Ossining “Words & Music” concert series.  That series is an integral part of what makes Ossining the greatest place I can imagine for raising my family.

This summer Paxton and Levon performed before a live audience for the first time.  They each played a song they learned in their piano classes at Risko.  My boys were the opening act for the Rock Band Campers who composed and performed original pieces in a live outdoor concert at the music school.  How cool is that?!

I lived in OH for six years, so will never take Ossining’s gorgeous sunsets for granted!

So many of us gathered to enjoy warm Friday evenings at the Ossining Waterfront.  There is no more spectacular venue for live music than sitting on a blanket with friends, picnicking, listening, dancing and watching the sunset over the Hudson River at Louis Engel Park.  We have the Ossining Waterfront Vision Committee is to thank for that free public concert series.

When my boys are at Claremont, I look forward to them learning to play violin, viola or cello.  Mike & Miriam Risko demonstrated their profound connection with our community by offering a free Intro to Strings workshop for the new string players before the school year began.

Another terrific live music event is the Ossining MATTERS Benefit Concert.  That’s one ticket I’m happy to pay for.  Last year when audience members were invited to come together in front of the stage, I danced with friends, students, parents, administrators, school board and community members.  It is no wonder that this annual spring fundraiser is such a success in Ossining.

Maybe someday Pax and Levon will form a band—Blue Pizza is the name they’ve already selected.  (If there’s any garage that deserves its own band, it the gorgeous one my husband Eric built!)  Maybe someday my boys will march in the OHS band, or even play Carnegie Hall.  Or maybe they’ll just sing in the shower.  What I do know, is that the rich role music will play throughout their lives is in no small part thanks to the creativity, generosity and dedication of so many wonderful people in Ossining.

Individual contributions are limited to $1,000 and are not tax-deductible.  Please make checks out to Friends of Victoria and mail them to Friends of Victoria Gearity, 57 Prospect Avenue, Ossining, NY  10562.

Event attendees can make donations at the door.  Thanks!!

Throwing My Hat In

The title of this post suggests a nonchalant gesture made on a whim.  But what I did last night followed months of “what-if” conversations with Eric, and a lifetime of being entranced, amused, enraged, and engaged by politics.

This fall Marlene Cheatham will not seek reelection as a Trustee on the Ossining Village Board.  Last night I submitted the below letter to Thomasina Laidley-Brown, Chairwoman of the Town of Ossining Democratic Party expressing my interest to run for Marlene’s seat.  This was the first step in a series of events that need to occur on my path to, hopefully, garnering the endorsement of the Democratic party.

Dear Madame Chairwoman,

I would like to run for the position of Ossining Village Trustee.  As a member of our Village Board, I would strive to represent the needs of women, working and middle class families, parents of young children, stay-at-home moms, small business owners, and all proud citizens of Ossining.  As a lifelong Democrat and community activist, I welcome the opportunity to serve this community that supports the values of myself and my family so well.

As my children have grown old enough to allow me more time outside of the home, I have become actively involved in our community; most visibly in my work protecting our local environment as a member of the Village Environmental Advisory Council and promoting energy efficiency for Ossining homeowners as the Energize Ossining liaison.

My husband Eric and I moved to Ossining when I was pregnant with our first son.  At that time, the pool at the Joseph G. Caputo Community Center had recently opened and the library was under construction.  These shining examples of the vitality of the Ossining community were tailor-made for a growing family like ours.

Walking the path from parking to the playground is my favorite part of each visit to Louis Engel Park.

Being home with young children heightens my appreciation for Ossining’s parks and playgrounds.  One of our favorite destinations during the warm weather is Louis Engel Park with its beautiful walk along the Hudson to the playground and sprayground.  I look forward to being part of the continuing revitalization of Ossining’s waterfront.

The rich diversity that Ossining provides my sons was especially evident this year as we read books and had conversations in preparation for Martin Luther King’s birthday.  The idea of being in a classroom filled only with white children is unimaginable to my son at Park School where the parade of students carrying their flags on Heritage Day looked more like UN representatives than a group of children from a single community.  I’m also grateful for the opportunity Ossining provides me to improve my Spanish language skills on a daily basis.

I look forward to speaking with you more about how I may serve the Village of Ossining as a Trustee.

Sincerely,

Victoria Gearity

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